Game Of Thrones Recap: The Wall, All The Wall, And Nothing But The Wall
Have you felt a dearth of epic battles in your life? Well, Game of Thrones has your cure, and it has nothing to do with more cowbell. It has to do with the Wildlings attacking The Wall and giants and mammoths and arrows, and – of course – plenty of death. Plus, there are a fair amount of surprises, so let’s get our recap on.
We begin with Jon Snow and Sam talking about love, and what it’s like to be with a woman. Sam wants to know, figuring that they are all going to die sooner than he had planned. He then makes a very lawyerly argument in favor of Night’s Watchmen being able to have ‘intimate relations’ with women, so long as they take no wife and father no children. That leaves open plenty of… opportunities and options for having sexxxytime with the ladies. Sam Tarly, Esq., is now our legal counsel.
Ygritte and the Wildlings and Thenns south of The Wall start bickering. The Thenns think that she still has feeling for Jon Snow, and she promises an arrow for any man who tries to kill Snow. She wants to kill him herself.
Sam and Maester Aemon have a chat in the Black Castle library. We learn that Maester Aemon was once a young boy in love. And before he came to the Night’s Watch, he was Aemon Targarian. He could have been king if he had said the words. They talk about love, and Maester Aemon tells Sam to go to bed and not worry about what the Wildlings may have done to Gilly.
As Sam leaves the library, he hears a woman demanding entrance to Castle Black. Pip, who is guarding the door, is refusing her entry. Sam recognizes that voice! It’s Gilly, who is NOT DEAD! Hoorah. Now if only Pip would open the damn gate. He refuses, because he has strict orders not to. Sam loses his temper and shouts, “PIP, OPEN THE FUCKING GATE!” Pip does, mainly because he has never heard Sam curse before. So hooray, Sam and Gilly are back together. Will we get a moment of respite to enjoy it? Of course not. Mance has lit a giant fire North of The Wall, signaling the attack is to begin.
Jon Snow and Ser Alliser have a conversation atop The Wall. Serr Alliser admits that he should have sealed the tunnel. Jon says that leaders oftentimes face tough decisions. Ser Alliser responds:
Do you know what leadership means, Lord Snow? It means that the person in charge gets second-guessed by every clever little twat with a mouth. But if he starts second-guessing himself, that’s the end. For him. For the clever little twats. For everyone.
He goes on to say that tonight will not be the end, and things will soon return to normal:
You get to go on hating me, and I get to go on wishing your little Wildling whore had finished the job.
Not exactly bromance, but it seems there is some grudging respect there. Nice thing to have moments before a battle.
Sam takes Gilly to a room low in the castle (a kitchen?) that requires a key to get into. Gilly is upset that Sam is leaving her, after promising to never leaving her again. Sam says that he didn’t mean always being literally in the same room, and that he has to help his brothers defend The Wall. Then they kiss! Woo, Sam, getcha some! Then Gilly demands that Sam promise that he won’t die. Sam responds, “I promise you I won’t die.” Not to take away from the gravity of the situation, but it felt a little Team America to us:
But let’s hope Sam can keep his promise, because he is great in this episode. He leaves Gilly, and then chats with Pip some more about fear before battle, right before Ygritte and the Wildlings storm from south of Castle Black.
The battle rages north of The Wall and from the South. As the viewer, we are held breathless as the action switches back and forth. From the south, the Night’s Watch slowly gives ground as Wildlings and Thenns hack up more and more crows. Plus, Ygritte kicks ass with the bow, managing to put down more than her fair share of men in black, including Pip. Ser Alliser gives a rallying speech, and the ground becomes drenched in blood and covered in bodies. Even poor Sam is almost slayed, just before he is able to launch a crossbow bolt into the forehead of a hungry Thenn.
On top of The Wall, Jon Snow takes charge and rallies his men to defend the gate, which is being attacked by giants and mammoths. They loose arrows, and then powder kegs that explode and leave the Wildlings smelling burnt mammoth flesh, which is probably not appetizing. Jon, knowing that the outer gate will not hold, sends six men to hold the inner gate, knowing it will be the last stand against a hundred thousand Wildlings. One angry giant decides he will just lift up the outer gate by himself. Uh-oh.
The Night’s Watchmen at the inner gate must face off against a giant. In order to steel themselves against a giant running towards them, they recite their vows, at first weakly, then gaining in strength, volume, and courage as the giant nears, knowing that it is six of them fighting for all the Night’s Watch.
Sam comes to the top of The Wall to tell Jon that they need help down below. Jon hands off command to another, and goes down with several other men. At the bottom, he hands Sam a key, and Sam goes to release Ghost, who proceeds to chomp down on the neck of a Thenn.
Jon begins to battle the leader of the Thenns, at first getting his ass kicked and losing his sword. Just as he is about to die (after getting his face smashed into an anvil), his hand finds a blacksmith hammer, which then quickly finds its way into a Thenn skull.
As he wipes blood from his mouth, he looks up to see Ygritte standing there, arrow drawn, looking at him. For a moment they just stand there, looking at each other. Will Jon Snow follow the path of his father, Ned Stark, dying too early in life? Just as he was beginning to take charge, will he now die?
All of a sudden, an arrow pierces Ygritte. She falls to her knees, and Jon Snow rushes over to her. Barely clinging to life, Ygritte asks Jon if he remembers the cave. He says yes. She says that they should have stayed there forever. Jon promises to go back with her, but Ygritte knows she is dying. With her last breath, she utters the words that are now so familiar: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.” Jon holds her as she dies.
Back on top of The Wall, the men drop the Scythe, which is a giant metal death blade that sweeps like a pendulum along the outer face of The Wall, killing all the Wildlings who had been trying to climb up. After that, the Wildlings begin to pull back.
Down in Castle Black, the fighting is also done, with only Tormund (the large Wildling with red hair), surviving. Jon Snow tells him its over, but he refuses to stop fighting. Jon shoots him in the leg with a crossbow bolt, and then orders him to be put in chains.
The men of Castle Black know that this was just a first attack. The episode ends with Jon Snow walking through the gate North of The Wall, going to kill Mance. He passes by the bodies of the six men who defended the inner gate, along with the corpse of a giant. Jon knows that Mance has managed to unite a hundred warring tribes, and if he dies, they go back to fighting each other, not the Night Watchmen. He knows that it is a bad plan, but there are no better plans. He leaves his sword with Sam, not willing to lose it to any Wildlings.
Phew. What a ride. And that was only the penultimate episode. We still have one more week, in which we will catch up with Bran and a weirwood tree, make our way back to King’s Landing, continue the drama at Castle Black, and see Daenerys and her dragons. Check out the preview:
As a reminder, Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9 pm on HBO. Catch up on all of Season Four here: